(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)

Police: Gift card scam connected to hoax Fred Meyer threats

This article has been moved in front of the Empire’s paywall.

A gift card scam has an apparent connection to hoax threats made to a big-box store in Juneau, police say.

An unidentified man on Wednesday made violent threats over the phone to a customer service representative with Kroger Inc. regarding a gift card purchased at Juneau’s Fred Meyer, according to the Juneau Police Department. Police later determined those threats to be a hoax, and further investigation presented a connection to a gift card scam.

According to police, at approximately 2:27 p.m. on Wednesday, JPD received a report from Kroger Inc., the North Carolina-based owners of Fred Meyer, who said an unknown man upset about a faulty gift card had called their customer service line and made threats.

Kroger Inc. told police that the caller wanted to return the gift card and when the man was told that wasn’t allowed, the caller threatened violence at Juneau Fred Meyer. During the call, the caller gave the Kroger Inc. customer service representative a false name. JPD responded to Fred Meyer to ensure the safety of everyone there and began investigating the threat, according to JPD.

While JPD officers were at Fred Meyer, store employees received another call, believed to be the unknown caller, who again made a threat of violence at Juneau Fred Meyer. During the investigation, JPD learned that a 70-year-old Juneau woman had purchased a $500 gift card at Juneau Fred Meyer earlier in the day and sent the gift card numbers to an unknown man, whom she had been communicating with on the phone.

The unknown man is believed to be the man who initially called Kroger Inc. and made the threat, or is associated with the man and is not believed to be in Juneau currently, according to JPD. The gift card purchased at the Juneau Fred Meyer is said to have not worked, which is what prompted the unknown man to contact Kroger Inc. and threaten the Juneau Fred Meyer.

The name the unknown caller provided to the Kroger Inc. customer service representative is believed to be the name of the 70-year-old woman, according to police. Due to the rarity of the woman’s name and a language barrier, the name was not recorded accurately by the customer service representative. This is believed to be part of a gift card scam, and the 70-year-old woman, who police did not identify, is a victim of fraud.

At approximately 6:21 p.m. on Wednesday, JPD had completed the initial investigation into the report, and since then police have been able to identify at least two Juneau residents who are believed to be victims of the same gift card scam, which appears to have led to the loss of several thousands of dollars, according to police. This case is still under investigation.

Anyone who feels they’ve been the victim of a gift card scam, or another scam, can file a report with JPD by calling the non-emergency number at (907)586-0600.

• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at jonson.kuhn@juneauempire.com.

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